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6 Reasons Why Your Ads Aren’t Getting People to Buy

There is nothing more frustrating than running an ad campaign, spending lots of time and money on it, and ending up with nothing but disappointing sales. Sadly, though, this is the fate that awaits many businesses that launch their campaigns before they are fully ready. If you’re running an ad campaign, whether on Facebook, Google Ads, or even offline in a publication, are you getting the sales you expect? If not, your campaign could be suffering from one of these six problems.

#1. Your Ads Don’t Stand Out

The primary reason why your ads might not be performing as they’re intended to is that they simply don’t stand out enough. If your content fails to prove distinct from that of the countless other ads on offer, it will be ignored.

This all begins with your headlines. A headline is crucial to the success of any piece of marketing copy, whether you are writing a sales letter, email, or blog post, and it’s particularly vital for an advertisement because of the direct financial significance.

For your headlines to be noticed by your target audience, they should be short, snappy, and compelling. It’s tempting to try to be clever with puns and complex constructions, but most of the time it’s advisable to focus on being clear and straightforward.

Part of that involves providing a clear benefit to your target customer. If someone sees your ad and instantly recognizes it as something worth their time, most of the hard work is done. This can be accomplished in many ways, but here are three of the most common:

  • Provide something for free, such as a free trial of your service. Everyone loves getting something for free, and the allure is often enough to overcome other objections.
  • Promise a solution to a major problem. We all aspire to leave easier lives free of everyday inconveniences, and if you can provide a way to overcome a significant annoyance, you’ll get people interested.
  • Create an enigmatic hook. For instance, someone suffering from Eczema might be attracted to a headline that simply reads: “Eczema?” Now knowing what exactly is on offer, they’ll be eager to find out.

For some tips on creating effective PPC headlines, try this excellent guide. Following on from your headlines, remember that the image you use is also hugely important (depending on the context). Images for online ads will need to be bold and eye-catching, while an image for a print ad might benefit more from being illustrative (standing out through value, not contrast).

#2. Your CTAs Are Weak or Non-Existent

Another classic mistake in any kind of ad is forgetting to add a call to action (CTA) — a feature that gives the reader an action to take (an action that should benefit you both). Sometimes it feels too obvious to state what you want someone to do after reading your ad, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that every reader will know what their options are.

For an ad to be of direct value, it will need to push the target towards a specific action. This action could be calling a phone line, visiting a store, clicking a link, downloading a report, sending an email, etc. — and you need to make it absolutely clear both what that action is and how someone can pursue it.

To that end, always include a clear CTA, even when you have limited space (as will typically be the case for PPC ads). Setting out a convincing argument but failing to identify the next step is hugely wasteful.

#3. You’re Running the Same Ads Too Frequently

A common scenario is that business creates some high-quality ads but ends up using them in perpetuity. This is very damaging. When your audience sees an ad too often, it won’t only lose its ability to stand out — it may actually start to annoy them, making them less likely to take the kind of action you’re looking for (and more likely to develop an antipathy towards your brand).

The simple solution is to keep mixing things up. Even when you hit upon an ad formula that seems extremely effective, don’t rely on it to the extent that it becomes stale. Keep making minor alterations to keep it fresh — change the image and the copy, and even modify the CTA if you think it’s worth trying.

And while you’re reaping the benefits of a hit ad, commit time to think about what comes next so you can move on to something new before you hit the point of diminishing returns.

#4. Your Messages are Inconsistent

It’s surprisingly common for an ad to fail to provide a message match. The goal for an ad will generally be to push someone elsewhere — into a store, to a website, to a phone line, etc. — and whatever they encounter when they move in that direction should suit the ad content that convinced them to do so.

For instance, if your ad highlights a special offer but leads to a store that either plays down or completely fails to recognize that offer, it will lead to frustration and resentment. If you don’t want people to feel betrayed, you need to deliver on the promise of the ad.

It doesn’t stop with the CTA, though. Message match can even be affected by something as simple as the color scheme or the images you use. As much as possible, you want whatever follows the ad to feel like a natural continuation. Use the same keywords and similar language to achieve this and make it abundantly clear that the prospect is in the right place.

#5. Your Targeting Is Off

If you’re not targeting the right audience, your ad is likely to flop. You could be advertising in the wrong magazine, newspaper, or publication, targeting the wrong people on Facebook, or using the wrong keywords on Google Ads. Whatever the situation, bad targeting invariably leads to failure and wastes a lot of effort.

You need to think not only about the people you want to be reaching, but also when you want to be reaching them. If you want to convince people to choose your product but you’re catching them in the awareness stage (rather than the decision stage), then your content will go ignored (or pick up idle curiosity clicks that lead nowhere).

One way to avoid this is to think carefully about the intent reflected in successful ads, both online and offline. What are the top brands doing? If they’re getting traction, they likely understand what people are looking for (and when they want it). Learn from hit strategies to come up with something of comparable polish.

And if you’re sure that you’re marketing in the right place at the right time using the right hooks, then it might be your language that’s letting you down. Phrasing is important in the advertising world. Aim to use terms that will resonate with your audience — carry out some in-depth audience research to determine exactly what tone and terms you should use.

#5. You Need to Increase Your Budget

Finally, it could simply be that your advertising budget is not high enough. Whether you’re setting too low a daily budget on Facebook Ads or paying for too small a section in a publication, being cautious with your ad spend can ultimately sink your efforts, particularly when you’re trying to compete with much bigger brands.

So if you’ve looked at all the above problems and can’t see any big issues, consider increasing your budget. It’s a tough decision to make because scaling up when you’ve yet to see the right results could just lead to more wasted expenditure, but it comes down to your level of confidence in the quality of your ads. At some point, you need to bet on yourself.

Finally: Don’t Forget to Test

These are all potential reasons why your ads are not working, but something you need to remember about ads is that sometimes you’re going to be totally baffled about why they’re not working. There are so many factors that contribute to an ad’s success (or lack thereof) that it’s all but impossible to consider them all in full.

When that happens, the way forward is to keep experimenting and testing. Change the copy, change the images, and adjust the parameters. Try a different platform if you must — if you’ve been advertising on Twitter, perhaps Instagram marketing would be more suitable.

And don’t stop with your ads: test everything. Maybe your ads are pushing traffic that isn’t converting because you picked the wrong commerce platform for your needs. If so, try choosing a different CMS. Or perhaps your designs are terrible, and you’d benefit from hiring a designer. Do something.

Instead of relying exclusively on one approach, keep trying new things, aiming to have various ad types running in low quantities at all times. Then, if one of your ads, in particular, becomes notably successful, try to build on it. When you find something that actually gets results, don’t worry so much about why it’s working — you can profit now and figure it out later.

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